by Mark Metzler
On Sunday, the Packers proved that in football things can fall apart in a hurry. And when you fall apart against a good team, the little lapses all of a sudden become a catastrophe. That’s what happened against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with the Packers losing 38-10. It was almost like watching film of an avalanche. First, you see a little snow move, and then, suddenly, the entire side of the mountain comes crashing down.
Wow. What happened? The Packers were rolling along with a 10-0 lead and had just gotten the ball back, then Rodgers gave up a pick six. It was his first interception all season. Then on the next possession, another interception that’s returned to the two and quickly converted for another score. Then a three and out, and all of a sudden it’s 21-10. It all happened in the blink of an eye. It couldn’t get any worse, right?
The Packers got the ball back and needed to score, but it didn’t happen. Another three and out, with a key sack. All of sudden, Tom Brady, the guy with six Super Bowl trophies, has the ball and is driving. The Packers looked like they might make a stop, but then Brady and Rob Gronkowski hooked up for a nice touchdown. That gave them third all-time for touchdown conversions. Worse yet, the Buccaneers rolled off 28 points in the second quarter. Plus, Brady and the Bucs would get the ball to start the second half. And Brady wasn’t going to let up.
By the time it was all over, the Buccaneers had rolled off 38 unanswered points, and the Packers looked mortal. It started so well with the Packers converting a key third and 10 and two scores on the first two possessions. The defense was looking good and then it all fell apart. It really happened in less than two quarters and could be traced back to the pick six. Just one play, really, that turned the momentum completely around. But that’s what happens in avalanches.
With Brady, Gronkowski, Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul and LeSean McCoy the Buccaneers have a lot of people who have been stars in the league. Other than Brady, you had to wonder how much gas they had left in the tank. Against the Packers, and with a very good defense, the answer has to be that they had enough.
So, what did we learn? That the Buccaneers are good. Maybe. The defense certainly is, and the offense is above average. That equals good, and odds are the team will make the playoffs.
We learned that the Packers have a good deal of work yet to do. We learned that things get pretty tough without tackle David Bakhtiari. When he got hurt in the third quarter, the Bucs’ defense went through backup Rick Wagner like he was standing still. In fact, I think he was most of the time. We learned that the team missed Tyler Ervin for motion fakes on offense. What’s most troubling is we saw the team was unable to re-group and come back and give the Buccaneers a game. It was as bad a defeat as last year’s NFC championship game against the 49ers.
And maybe, just maybe, we learned that the Packers were a little arrogant going into the game, and that might have intensified after the strong first quarter, leading to a forced throw. If you saw the replay, a receiver was open on a crossing route underneath. The good thing is that arrogance is correctable, and it’s a good lesson to learn this early in the season. Will they learn it? I think so.
Now, the Packers are technically in second in the division against the Bears, who also have one loss but have played one more game. Next week the Packers have the Houston Texans. Despite having just one win, the Texans are a good team.